Heidi Harley, Jeffrey Punske
Snippets 29, 5-6
Publication year: 2015

Superlatives are ambiguous between an absolute and one or more relative readings (see: Heim 1985, 1999, Szabolcsi 1986, Gawron 1995, Farkas and Kiss 2000, Sharvit and Stateva 2002, Pancheva and Tomaszewicz 2012). The availability of relative readings depends on the locus of the focused item. Pancheva and Tomaszewicz (2012) notice that focusing an element internal to the superlative phrase does not make a relative reading available. So it is impossible to read John met the youngest students from LONdon as meaning “#The youngest of the students from somewhere that were met by John were from London.” The relative reading associated with subject focus, however, is unaffected. Surprisingly, certain PP modifiers of the superlative DP block all relative interpretations, even those associated with subject focus.